I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Peter this weekend. His “humanness” resonates deeply with me. One day he is telling Jesus that he would never deny him or leave him and would even die for him… and then another day we see him so fearful that he does exactly the thing he said would never ever do.
Can you relate?
We profess with our lips that Jesus is our King…but then, every single hour of every single day, that faith is tested in a thousand different ways and we deny Him with our actions. Sometimes in big dramatic ways, sometimes in small and seemingly insignificant ways.
After my mom died when I was 18, I ran away from the Lord. Even though I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior as a pre-teen, I spent the next decade of my life turning down the volume on His voice and doing life the way I wanted to do it. When this prodigal daughter finally came running home, I kind of felt like Peter.
Prior to leaving Him, I never thought it would have been possible for me to veer so off course…to abandon and betray the lover of my soul. But I did. And like Peter, I was broken by this Love that still desired to be with me even though I had left Him. He had never stopped pursuing me, had never given up on me, would never walk away from me like I had walked away from him and had waited for me to turn around and run home again.
I love the scene after the resurrection when Jesus cooks Peter breakfast and asks him…”Do you love me, Peter?” multiple times. I can see this scene play out in my mind so vividly. Any time I think about this scene, it brings me to tears too. I can see Jesus asking me that same question after each and every one of my royal screw ups. “Eileen, do you love me?” Yes, Lord, you know I do. Then feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.
Another thing I love about Peter is the boldness that came over him after the biggest screw up of his life and after this encounter with the resurrected Jesus. We see him preaching fearlessly, even to the point of being arrested. His detour away from the Lord was used to glorify God. Peter was more determined than ever to share the love of Jesus with everyone…despite the dangers of doing so. We even see the Lord use him to bring the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles…the outsiders:
“Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.” Acts 10: 34-36
The longer I’m on this faith journey, the more I realize that one of my desires is to never get it so wrong as I did when I turned and ran away for a season. I don’t want to profess Him with my lips and then turn around and deny him with the way I live and falling short of full devotion. I want to feed and take care of His sheep.
I love this quote from Craig Greenfield:
“Jesus has taught me the holiest places to be:
Eating with the outcast.
Sitting with the grieving.
Standing with the oppressed.
Walking with the marginalized.”